Kevin B. Chen
Stephanie Syjuco
FREE TEXTS, 2012
Laserjet prints with tear-off tabs
Courtesy of the artist & Catharine Clark Gallery

Originally commissioned for the ZERO1 Art and Technology Biennial, San Jose, CA, this site-specific installation (representing only a portion of the larger project) deals with the thorny issues of digital copyright, open source culture, alternatives to capitalism, and the state of the intellectual commons in the 21st Century. Visitors are invited to pull tabs from a wall of flyers that advertise URLs to download their own copy of text, many of which have been illegally uploaded by anonymous file sharers around the world.

The texts are curated around the history of the open source movement, creative commons, remix culture, and challenges to copyright in the digital era, engaging the public in a lively dialogue of ownership and public access. File sharing and copyright infringement – of media, entertainment, creative works, and intellectual property – are hot political and cultural topics in a world increasingly seeking to commodify the production and dissemination of ideas and information.

The internet has created a seemingly endless amount of ways in which information can be spread, much to the consternation of copyright holders. Surprisingly, not only music and media are illicitly shared online, but also texts, which are sometimes scanned directly out of books and traded within the academic community. A quick internet search can uncover an amazing amount of them, many ironically being themselves about open source culture and copyright.

In a much larger context, the fight for access to cultural resources can also be linked to the fight for physical resources, such as in the field of agriculture and bioengineering, where corporations are claiming patents on genes of plants and animals. FREE TEXT is a project devoted to an urgent and pressing topic that will shape how the future accesses and produces culture. 

Determining Domain

November 7, 2012 – January 19, 2013
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis
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